Improving My Day With Music

« Back to Home

Six Fun Facts You Probably Never Knew About Pianos And Piano Tuning

Posted on

Whether you own a piano or simply appreciate fine piano music, you may not know much about the piano's history or about the piano tuning profession--a vital role in piano performance. Here are six fun facts that you can use to impress your musical friends.

1. Pianos are a fairly recent invention.

If you own a piano, you likely take it for granted that the instrument has been around forever; after all, those Classical and Romantic compositions for piano go centuries back, right? True, but until around the end of the18th Century, the harpsichord was a much more popular instrument, at home and in the concert hall, and the pianoforte (as it was known then) was in its infancy. Most people tuned their own harpsichords, which was much easier than tuning a piano, due primarily to the reduced string tension of the former.

Gradually, music lovers realized that the harpsichord had little dynamic variation because of its very percussive action, and it produced poor volume in larger residential rooms or music halls. This paved the way for the increased popularity of the pianoforte during the 19th Century.

2. Early piano tuners had a complicated job.

Those early pianos were constantly changing as the technology improved, and piano tuning was quickly left to professionals. They had a tough job trying to keep up with all the different sizes and shapes. Did you know that most early grand pianos were square shaped?

3. Many White House residents have had pianos.

Many of the first grand pianos used in the White House in Washington, DC, were of the square variety, and that shape was common into the early 20th Century. James Madison's piano, which was a square grand, was unfortunately destroyed by fire, as was Grover Cleveland's, a piano-harpsichord combination.

While some of the more recent Presidents of the United States have gotten away from owning personal pianos, there is still one maintained in the White House for guests and famous musicians to play.

4. Piano tuners learn their craft in many different ways.

Just as in the first years of the piano tuning profession, piano tuners still have a number of paths to their careers. Some apprentice with established tuners, while others learn their skills from piano manufacturers or restoration specialists, hence the title "piano tuner-technician." Other piano tuners study music and musical instruments at the university level and develop their craft in that way.

5. There are numerous blind piano tuners.

Because piano tuning can usually be performed by sound and touch, there are many piano tuners who are blind. There are even membership organizations devoted to blind piano tuners. Some piano owners swear by sightless tuners, as they feel their hearing is enhanced by the loss of their other sense.

6. Piano tuning is still not a DIY job.

In spite of all the improvements in technology in the 21st Century, piano tuning remains essentially a 19th Century job, done with hand tools and a keen sense of pitch. While you should always leave the tuning of your piano to a professional, there may be small adjustments you can learn to do on your own. If you have one key that tends to go out of tune before the rest of the piano, for example, your piano tuner may be able to show you how to fix it until their next visit. Contact a business, such as Las Vegas Pianos, for more informations.